Sometimes, you have to get creative when you have to bail out of your aircraft. During WWII, Army Air Forces bomber pilot Owen Baggett was attempting to take to out a bridge.
Instead, he had to bail out of his plane.
Flying over Burma
In March 1943, Baggett and his fellow airmen were flying a B-24 Liberator when they came up against Japanese Zero fighters. Baggett’s bomber took multiple hits to the fuel tanks.
The men all had to bail. Baggett was the plane’s co-pilot. He made sure everyone escaped while firing the top gun turret. However, he and the crew barely made it out.
The plane quickly exploded. The Japanese were relentless and kept firing upon the pilots as they fell to the ground.
Avoiding the Enemy
Baggett thought it best to play dead so he would not draw fire from the Japanese. But a Japanese fighter piloting a Zero decided to investigate.
He brought his plane near Baggett and lifted the parachute canopy to verify that the American was dear. Unfortunately for him, Baggett was not. Baggett had an M1911 at the ready and fired four shots into the plane’s cockpit. The Zero crashed to the ground.
Colonel Harry Melton, the 311th Fighter Group commander, saw a pilot’s body thrown from a crashing plane, and the Japanese pilot was killed by a shot to the head.
However, no one knows for sure because Melton was killed when the ship he was on sunk. Baggett reached the ground alive but was captured, spending two years in a POW camp in Rangoon, Burma.
The OSS saved him, and Baggett continued to fight for the U.S. Air Force. He retired as a Colonel and passed away in 2006. However, he was confident that he shot down the Japanese Zero with his 1911.
The popular pistol was created by John Browning and was the top weapon of the Army for years until the Gulf War. During WWII, most of the armed forces carried the weapon.
More than two million 1911’s were produced during WWII and was used over the land, sea, and air. All types of soldiers carried the gun from paratroopers, military police, and machine gunners.
It was the perfect backup firepower. It was standard issue for the Vietnam War, Korean War, and the Gulf War. Today, it is more of a collector’s piece.